Wilding – REVIEW

Wilding - a family returns to nature with astonishing results.......

The release of Wilding and its astonishing tale put us in mind of our Editor’s attempts at gardening. Despite the flak we give our editor he is a good man at heart often helping out Mrs Miggins an elderly widowed neighbour with her garden especially the hedges and bushes. Arriving at her house to help cut back them back he found that his own shears needed sharpening and Mrs Miggins told him there were some in a chest in the garden shed. Unfortunately there were none there and so he went to see Charlie Jones another neighbour to see if he had any. Charlie was out but his wife said he she would help him look in the garage for them where he found some and returned to Mrs Miggins to finish the job. Our Editor had been out for some time doing all of this and when he returned home his wife asked him where he’d been. ‘Well I promised Mrs Miggins I would trim her bush but I didn’t have the right equipment so she let me rummage around her chest in the shed. After that I went to Mrs Jones and she showed me her Charlie’s in the garage’.  Our Editor is now sleeping in the spare room. (‘You’re fired!’ – Ed). New film ‘Wilding’ is not that story.

Instead it is a remarkable return to nature true story written by the appropriately named Isabella Tree about her own experience having inherited a huge farming estate with her husband.

It would seem to be a dream to inherit such a huge piece of land and the accompanying manor house but what they had was on its knees. The land had been intensively farmed to collapse bloated with chemical substances and of no use to anyone. Basically it was the Pete Doherty of agriculture. It would seem a hopeless case and yet what Tree and her husband decided to do was to reject any further farming and went back to basics starting with an oak tree expert who explains that the trees growing on their land with the canopy of branches and labyrinthine roots contained microbes and organisms essential to the rehabilitation of the soil. To this they adopted a radical idea from an European landscape expert that involved allowing animals on the land to just roam and run free and in that capacity let them adapt to the landscape and vice versa.

It all sounds a bit dippy hippy but with fences torn down to allow sheep, pigs and cattle to roam and the horticulture of the estate to grow free it would seem a recipe for disaster and the locals were resentful about what they perceived as the land going to wrack and ruin. Wilding proved them wrong.

What film  makers David Allen has captured here is mesmerizing as over the curse of twenty years the Tree family have created  what would seem an almost impossible to achieve idyll. It’s a documentary full of fascinating insights in the tribulations they have encountered along the way –  huge uncontrolled growth in creeping thistles that would decimate other farmland saw an unforeseen solution when locusts from Africa arrived unexpectedly en masse and the lot ending the problem almost overnight. Added to this is the wildlife returning to the land that has included herons as well as their own campaign to successfully introduce beavers and the benefit they provide in irrigation.

Wilding is an extraordinary insight into the family’s  push back against industrial farming and the a it does to the land. Upbeat, life affirming and proof that all is not lost this is a documentary that is utterly enchanting and an almost romantic vison that proves that old Jurassic Park quote that somehow, ‘life finds a way’.

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related feature : Richard Armitage chats about true life story The Boy in the Woods

Here’s the Wilding trailer…..


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